The last time the PokerStars.Com Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) was in action was in Mexico, where the local officials shut down the tournament near the end of the first day. It never resumed, though a resolution for the remaining players was hosted by PokerStars . But the next stop on the LAPT’s second season went off without a problem - other than long days - in a new stop in Vina del Mar, Chile. An exotic South American location brought hundreds of players, many of them new faces to the tour, to the felt to compete for an LAPT title.
A number of Team PokerStars Pros were in the field, including Andre Akkari, Alexandre Gomes, Ylon Schwartz, and Dennis Phillips. Other notables sharing the tournament room were J.C. Alvarado, Paul Magriel, Shirley Rosario, Maria Stern, and Argentinian backgammon champion Veronica Dabul. World renowned Humberto Brenes was also present, and not only with brother Alex, but with two sons Jose and Roberto.
The numbers were official a few hours into Day 1, and with 216 players, the prize pool was set at $523,800. The final 27 would take home a piece of that, but the winner would pocket a nice $141,426.
When the day was complete, only 63 remained. Among them was the aforementioned Gomes, who sat near the top of the leaderboard with 82,750 in chips, but it was Nicolas Perez in the top spot with 90,050.
The mission of Day 2 was to play down to the final table, and it was a longer day than most anticipated, clocking in around the 14-hour mark. It began innocently enough, with Roberto Brenes and Shirley Rosario taking leave of the tournament early in the action. Damian Salas took the chip lead and ran away with it, and he would later prove to be able to hold on to it all the way to the final table. Not so lucky was the previous day’s chip leader, who busted short of the money only a few hours into Day 2.
Alex Gomes also failed to make the money, and Veronica Dabul only missed it by three spots. With the elimination of Alex Manzano in 29th place, hand-for-hand play began to find the bubble player, which lasted more than an hour before…they went to dinner. Once they returned, it took even more time before finally seeing Samar Hodali all-in against six other players who checked it down on a K-J-3-4-7 board. Hodali’s A-10 was ultimately beat by 8-3, and he left just before the money. That made way for Diego Sobrino to be the first to cash in 27th place, which was worth $5,238.
Notable in-the-money eliminations included Maria Stern in 19th place, and Ariel Celestino in 11th place. Hand-for-hand play then began again, and it didn’t take long to end it. Carter Phillips pushed all-in from the small blind for 100K with , but Eduardo Camia called with from the big blind. The board came , and Phillips was left with two chips. Those went in on the next hand with against the of Hernan Villa. Phillips didn’t improve and was gone in tenth place with a $9,167 prize.
The final table was then set as follows:
Damian Andres Salas 412,000
Fabian Ortiz 347,000
Leandro Balotin 339,000
Fabio Escobar 300,000
Jyries Awad 208,000
Eduardo Camia 198,000
Jaime Ateneloff 128,000
Vincenzo Giannelli 122,000
Hernan Villa 107,000
Action began late in the afternoon of January 22nd, and it took nearly an hour of play before there was an all-in move. That one resulted in Giannelli doubling up through Ortiz. Then Camia doubled through Escobar.
Finally, the first elimination of the final table was at hand. Damian Salas started the action with a raise, but Jaime Ateneloff pushed all-in for his last 80K with pocket sevens. Salas called with , and it was off to the races. The board came , and the queens and fours were good for Salas to take it, sending Ateneloff to the rail in ninth place with $10,476 in prize money.
Nearly an hour and a half later, Eduardo Camia sought another double-up and put his last 127K at risk for it with . But Salas called with pocket nines, and Camia didn’t have many outs. The dealer concurred and gave them to eliminate Camia in eighth place with $13,095.
Jyries Saba had become a fan and media favorite throughout the tournament with his animated personality. And he survived longer than most thought he would in the event. Finally, he got involved with Fabian Ortiz to see the flop. Saba pushed all-in with for top pair, and Ortiz called immediately with pocket aces. The turn came , and the river of cemented the deal, and Saba was ousted in seventh place, which was worth $18,330.
Hernan Villa went on a roller coaster ride of an evening, first by doubling through Salas, and coming back from dinner to find Giannelli doubling through him. He did eventually double up again, however, through Escobar to stay alive a bit longer.
Escobar was hurt by Villa’s survival, and he moved all-in preflop with a solid . However, the hand didn’t look so solid after Giannelli called and showed . The board didn’t help with , and Fabio Escobar was gone in sixth place with $23,571 for the effort.
Villa ended his ride when his last 95K went all-in from the big blind. After Ortiz called and showed , Villa turned over . As the severe underdog, he found no help on the flop, nor the turn or river. Hernan Villa was eliminated in fifth place with $28,809.
Ortiz then took a hit when he lost a 1.1 million chip pot to Salas. He was seriously crippled with only 18K chips left after the hand, but with some determination and a little luck, he tripled through Bolatin and Giannelli, and then doubled through Bolatin to jump back over the 100K mark.
It was Bolatin who suffered as Ortiz rose. Bolatin then pushed all-in for 165K a short time later with , and Ortiz was the caller with . The board blanked for the hand’s underdog as it provided only . Leandro Bolatin was sent away from the tournament in fourth place with a $39,285 cash prize.
More time passed before the next elimination occurred just after 1:00am local time. The hand began with Giannelli making a raise and got more interesting when Salas reraised all-in for 520K from the big blind. Giannelli called and showed with excitement, while Salas had to show his inferior . The board ran out , and Damian Salas was forced to settle for a third place finish and the $52,380 associated with it.
Heads-up play was initiated with the following chip counts:
Vincenzo Giannelli 1,524,000
Fabian Ortiz 637,000
Ortiz took down the first pot to show that he wasn’t giving up. And within fifteen minutes, he was ready to pick up the pace. He pushed all-in with , and Giannelli called with . The board came , and Ortiz doubled up with the straight he made on the turn. Ortiz had taken the lead with 1.15 million, and Giannelli fell to just below the 1 million chip mark.
A short time later, as Giannelli sat with 899,000, it was time for him to move, and he did so with . But Ortiz called with and had the very distinct upper hand. The dealer slowly but surely gave them , and Vincenzo Giannelli was eliminated in second place and took away $58,570 for the accomplishment.
It was Fabian Ortiz who came back from near extinction to win the LAPT Vina del Mar tournament and the $141,426 that went with it. Along with the prize money and a beautiful trophy, Ortiz took the pleasure of becoming the latest Latin American Poker Tour champion.
(Thanks to the PokerStars blog for live updates.)